In an effort to talk about safety and coordinate Halloween events in Forest Park, the heads of the major entities in town met Sept. 28 to discuss what celebrations would be held this year.
It’s obvious that COVID-19 has put a major dent in the usual plans and parties so important to the village. The chamber has had to cancel its annual Casket Races. There won’t be Trunk or Treating at the park district. But that doesn’t mean the park, library, chamber and village haven’t found ways to ensure there’s still some good (safe) fun to be had.
“It seems we’ll do a modified trick or treat in town,” said Village Administrator Tim Gillian on Oct. 2, with shorter hours and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommended.
Since Halloween is on a Saturday, Gillian said a few hours in the afternoon would be a good time for trick or treating. And people who don’t want to participate by distributing candy can simply keep their lights off or ignore the doorbell.
The village will put out a notice soon regarding the hours and regulations people will be asked to follow.
On Sept. 28 the IDPH released guidelines related to the Halloween season, including safety for trick or treating.
“For this year, it would be safest to plan special events at home, using social media and other meeting platforms to connect with family and friends,” read the guidelines. “However, for those who choose to celebrate in person IDPH is offering the following guidance.”
Those distributing treats, according to the IDPH, should leave individually wrapped candy on a table in front of their homes. The key is making sure there’s at least six feet of social distance between the table and the front door, says the IDPH. Candy should be spread out, and anyone placing candy on the table should wash hands properly before doing so and when replenishing.
Everyone participating in trick or treating, including those passing out candy, should maintain social distance of at least six feet and wear a mask. It’s important to note that a costume mask is not considered a proper face covering by the IDPH. Proper face coverings can be worn under or over Halloween masks, but if breathing problems occur, the costume mask should be discarded, not the protective mask.
Only household members should trick or treat together, and they should stay at least six feet away from other trick or treaters.
Candy collected during trick or treating shouldn’t be eaten until after hands have been properly washed, and a guardian should check candy to make sure it’s wrapped properly.
A decorated Madison Street
Forest Park’s Chamber of Commerce won’t be holding its festive and famous Casket Races this year, and Trick or Treat on Madison Street has been cancelled due to COVID-19 as well. But the chamber is hosting Halloween Flowerpots on Parade instead.
The event, which runs from Oct. 23 through Nov. 8, involves decorating the larger flowerpots on Madison Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
The chamber says it’s a “family friendly event designed to create socially distanced fun where local businesses, organizations and residents can get involved.”
It’s a dual-purpose project, allowing residents and businesses to have fun decorating the major business districts in town while drawing visitors to the streets to enjoy the décor, which will include decorated storefronts and windows.
People can vote for their favorite flowerpots, and prizes will be awarded to the winning entries. A contest for best Halloween window will be run for businesses along Madison Street and Roosevelt Road too.
Proceeds go to the chamber to support Forest Park and the business community and to the Forest Park Food Pantry.
For more information, visit the chamber’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/forestparkchamber
Kids’ fun at the library
Alicia Hammond, community engagement manager at the Forest Park Public Library, said safety is the priority when it comes to all library events. As the library reopened, said Hammond, discussions focused on the best ways to keep staff and the community safe.
“We ended up deciding to keep our events virtual and socially distanced,” said Hammond. “We miss having in-person events so much, especially since we hardly had a chance to use our new spaces before the pandemic hit, but the health of the community is our top priority.”
Hammond said one of the most popular October events is the Monster Mash Storytime, held the Friday before Halloween.
“This tradition is so fun, and even though it won’t be in person this year, our Youth Services Manager Susan Farnum is working hard to make it a special event,” said Hammond.
Kids are invited to wear their costumes and join library staff on Zoom or Facebook Live to sing, dance, and listen to some stories. The event will be held on Oct. 30 at 10:30 a.m. via Zoom. Sign up at fppl.org/events.
For older kids aged 10 up, the library is hosting a Ghostly Tales event at 8 p.m. on Oct. 31, during which staff will “dip into the dark and spooky areas of our collection with readings of ghost stories and hauntings and all the things that go bump in the night.”
Halloween house decorating contest
The Park District of Forest Park is holding a Halloween home makeover contest from Oct. 1 to 22. Houses will be judged on curb appeal, creativity, theme, use of yard and house, and originality. Winners will receive free pool passes for up to four members. To enter, register at bit.ly/HalloweenDecoratingPDoFP. Participants get a yard sign announcing they’re in the contest.
More park district fun
In addition to the house decorating contest, the park district has several other Halloween events and offerings.
Boo Bags will be distributed to Forest Park children aged one to 14. Registration is open from Oct. 5 to 23, and a limited number of bags will be available. Learn more at bit.ly/PDoFPBooBags.
Harrison Street is being transformed into Scarrison Street, as staff decorates the park from Desplaines Avenue to Circle Avenue.
Visit www.pdofp.org for more information about what the park district is offering this year for Halloween.